The 2018 hurricane season is well underway. The most recent storm, Hurricane Michael, left parts of the Florida Panhandle in ruins, with at least five people dead and 1.1 million without power.

“When was the last time you were walking down the street and you spoke to a complete stranger?” Israeli photographer Erez Kaganovitz asks, recalling that for much of his life his own answer would have been “Never.” But when five years ago he moved from Haifa to Tel Aviv, Erez found himself amazed by the diversity of people bustling around him. Knowing that each person he passed had a unique story, Erez wanted to create a vehicle to tell them all. And thus, inspired by “Humans of New York,” he created his art project “Humans of Tel Aviv.”

“I’m doing this because I think it is important to show the true faces of Tel Aviv,” says Erez. “Tel Aviv is an amazing melting pot with a vibrant civil society.” Now comprised of over 1,000 portraits of everyday people, “Humans of Tel Aviv” captures the beauty of this city where Orthodox Jews rub shoulders with their more secular brothers and sisters, as well as Muslims, Christians, African refugees, drag queens and hipsters. Erez believes that opening a window into a stranger’s life, and glimpsing their humanity, is an important step away from stereotypes toward acceptance. And by spotlighting the citizens of his adopted home, he hopes to help people experience the Tel Aviv he knows and loves.

Since its founding, the Jewish Federation has focused on supporting Israel through inclusive programming as well as strengthening the bridge between Greater Philadelphia and Israel. And since 1966, the city of Philadelphia has developed its own special connection to Tel Aviv as one of our sister cities through Citizens Diplomacy International’s Sister Cities Program. Now, our two institutions are teaming up to present the immersive photo collection “Humans of Tel Aviv” in an outdoor exhibition at Sister Cities Park (18th & the Parkway across from Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral) from August 21st to September 3rd. A fuller exhibition will be on display again as a video installation from October 4th through December 31st at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

For more information on “Humans of Tel Aviv” events, visit jewishphilly.org/humansoftelaviv.

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